I only met Carolyn two days ago but I haven't been able to stop thinking about her since. She is infectious in the best possible way.
Last Christmas, Kesh and I decided we wanted to run a giveaway. If you won, you had to select another to pass the giveaway onto. Emails started coming within minutes and immediately, I realised this giveaway was bigger than us.
After just two emails, I couldn't comprehend how we would make a selection. Ultimately, we prayed, read and went with our heart. And our hearts lead us to Carolyn, who has Gastroparesis, a medical condition that is very unkind. Carolyn isn't able to eat and even the smallest sip of water causes nausea and vomiting. For this reason, Carolyn carries a backpack holding specially formulated nutrients that require a feeding tube.
I'm not worthy to tell Carolyn's story. I've only known her a few days but I do feel like I know her.
Kesh came with me because I wanted her there.
Carolyn's arms were held out as I walked to her door.
"How are you feeling," I asked, hopefully.
"Good, I'm feeling great," Carolyn replied with a genuine but pained smile.
"She's a great liar," Carolyn's husband, Stuart, laughed.
I knew Carolyn couldn't be feeling well. She was scheduled to go back to hospital two days after our shoot so that her feeding tube could be repositioned in her stomach. This would mean the creation of a new hole and the tube being stitched there. As well as this, we had previously rescheduled our shoot because Carolyn hadn't been feeling well for the better part of the year.
To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect. What I found was an immediate friend. I found love like I haven't known. I found happiness when there is every reason not to be. I found a powerful woman, with a beautiful family who love her. I found hope.
The day after our shoot, Carolyn told me that she had deteriorated and had to leave for hospital earlier than expected. And that's where she is right now.
On Facebook, I've seen her updates from the bedside. Even while in enormous pain, awaiting surgery, positivity abounds.
Please click play to view the slideshow.
I know that Carolyn would love to read any kind words you might like to leave here, on the blog.
Music: American Beauty - Thomas Newman (available on iTunes) and Skinny Love - Bon Iver (available on iTunes).